KiwiRail speed restrictions on Wellington’s rail network

Disruptions & Detours

Trains to and from Wellington will be running more slowly in May due to vital KiwiRail track evaluation safety equipment being out of action.  

From Monday 1 May, a 70km/h speed restriction will be in place. This will limit train speeds and frequency, requiring Metlink passenger services across Wellington to operate to a reduced timetable.

KiwiRail Chief Operations Officer Siva Sivapakkiam apologised for the impact of the delays.

“Passenger trains running across the Wellington region will be affected – limiting the number of services that can be run. This will be hugely disruptive to many and we apologise for this unplanned inconvenience and the late communication.”

“To comply with engineering standards, every four months we run a Track Evaluation Car across the Wellington network, which makes very exact measurements of the tracks – important for trains to operate safely. It is a highly specialised machine that inspects rail lines across the country, doing the kind of fine detailed work that cannot be done by our staff using hand-held equipment.

“Due to unforeseen technical issues with the Track Evaluation Car, we have been unable to undertake the necessary inspections due on the Kāpiti Line by the start of May. The machine also needs to assess the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa Lines by 7 May. As a result, these lines will no longer be compliant and we need to put temporary speed restrictions in place to meet our regulatory requirements. It’s similar to the warrant of fitness on a car expiring.

“We’ve been using this machine in Wellington three times a year, for many years, without disruption. We are working as quickly as possible to repair the Track Evaluation Car in Auckland and get it to Wellington to carry out the inspections. It could take up to three weeks to remove the speed restrictions, but if we can do it faster, we will.”

Metlink is moving to a reduced timetable from 1 May

Metlink is moving to a reduced timetable from 1 May, with Wairarapa services running as normal. Shuttles will replace Melling Line trains between Melling and Petone. These timetables are expected to be in place for at least the next week. More details about the reduced services will be communicated by Metlink on its channels today.

Metlink General Manager Samantha Gain says the sudden news of this equipment failure and its impact, requiring a move to reduced timetables, will test the patience of Metlink passengers.

“Metlink and our operator Transdev are doing all we can to run as many services as possible under these unexpected speed restrictions. We’ll be reviewing the timetables and services over the course of the week and keeping customers informed through the Metlink website and app,” adds Ms Gain.

Capital Connection and Northern Explorer timetables will also be affected.

There is only one Track Evaluation Car in New Zealand and it is used to assess rail lines across the country. Assessments using the car are a requirement under the Wellington metro Safety Case, which is regulated by Waka Kotahi.

For more information, please contact:   


04 498 2038